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2021 Hyundai Palisade adds more upscale Calligraphy offering Featured

Posted On Saturday, 27 March 2021 23:22 Written by
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The 2021 Hyundai Palisade, now in its second year on the market, remains a strong family-friendly ride and adds the Calligraphy trim level for 2021 The 2021 Hyundai Palisade, now in its second year on the market, remains a strong family-friendly ride and adds the Calligraphy trim level for 2021 Photo courtesy of Hyundai

Entering the large SUV market with a bang in 2020, Hyundai debuted the impressive Palisade model, which has been flying from dealer lots ever since its debut. The upscale 3-row model is the largest and one of the most expensive vehicles sold by the automaker, but sales numbers remain high as it impressed straight out of the gate in looks, performance and technology.

In its second year for the 2021 model year, most of the Palisade remains unchanged. The main difference is the addition of the more upscale Calligraphy trim level, and the options packages are slightly adjusted.

I recently tested a 2021 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy model, and I’m back with a full report.


Most SUVs aren’t traditionally known for unique or attractive exterior designs, but the exterior of the Palisade is one that will grab your attention.

Highlights include an especially eye-catching front grille, and a sharp wheel design. My Calligraphy trim level test vehicle also featured an exclusive 20-inch wheel.

Inside, the Palisade truly shines as a best-in-class contender, with what amounts to a luxury experience without paying luxury prices.

First of all, the seating is truly comfortable all through the vehicle, in all 8 seats, though the back row is best reserved for smaller children. Through a control panel accessible in the second row, passengers can control climate in the vehicle. And in addition to the front row seating offering heating and ventilation, so do the second-row seats.

Other interior features of note include: A power folding/reclining third row, Nappa leather seating surfaces, a heated steering wheel, Calligraphy exclusive headliner, rear side window sunshades, integrated seat memory, ambient lighting and a hands-free smart liftgate, and quilted-leather door inserts.

The versatility of how you can adjust the seating to boost cargo space is quite pleasing. Storage capacity is maxed out in this vehicle (up to 86.4 cubic feet), meaning you can either pack it full of people, or put all the seats down and pack it full of cargo, depending on your needs at the moment.


While this is a large vehicle that won't be a hot rod, it still offers an enjoyable ride that’s reasonably powerful. And you can engage the paddle shifters if you want to control the gears, a feature that’s not offered on all SUVs of this size.

The vehicle is well-insulated, so you will not be impacted by road noise unless it's an extreme situation.

Handling and responsiveness to driver input is decent for the segment. There are other brands whose SUVs are more focused on performance than the Palisade, but they lag behind the Palisade in other ways.

The power comes from a 3.8-liter V6 Engine, packing 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft. of torque. The motor is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission.

A Drive Mode select knob lets you choose Snow mode for those in winter climates, as well as other options including Sport Mode, Smart Mode, Comfort Mode or Eco Mode. My test vehicle was AWD, and that is an option on all trim levels, but FWD is the standard setting.

Towing capacity is 5,000 pounds, and a trailering package is offered that includes sway control.


The infotainment system in the Hyundai Palisade is very well-designed. Touch controls are laid out in a way that is easy to comprehend and use. Voice commands also worked extremely well to control everything from radio to phone to navigation.

The physical design of the layout is also interesting, with the shifter reduced to buttons to free up space in the center console.

The screen that is the center of the infotainment setup is 10.25 inches, a health size. Compatibility with both Android Auto & Apple CarPlay allows for phone mirroring, and Sirius XM satellite radio is offered.

Families will love that there are a total of 7 USB outlets in the Palisade, including some uniquely placed on the side of the front seats for use by people in the second row. A wireless phone charger is included as well as LED Interior Lighting.

The Harman/Kardon Premium Audio system comes through loud and clear, and Hyundai’s Blue Link Connected Services (basically their equivalent of OnStar) are also featured on the Palisade.

Staying up with the latest in safety is essential when transporting your family. Hyundai delivers in the Palisade, with a boatload of options to keep you safe.  Many are standard but others come on higher trim levels.

Like many new vehicles, the Palisade features a system that will keep you in your lane and essentially drive the vehicle by itself, though you are reminded to keep hands on the wheel. This system works well even on windy and curvy roads, and after any initial trepidation you learn to trust it quickly.

Point blank: The Palisade is loaded with just about every type of safety feature you could want on an SUV you’ll be using to drive around the people you love. They include: Downhill Brake Control, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Keeping Assist, Driver Attention Warning (warns if you’re appearing sleepy), Rearview Camera, Ultrasonic Rear Occupant Alert; front and rear Parking Sensors, Blind-Spot Collision Avoidance Assist; Safe Exit Assist (helpful when parking in street), Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist, Smart Cruise Control w/ Stop & Go; Lane Following Assist, Surround View Monitor and Blind View Monitor.

There’s also a head-up display to help keep your eyes on the road instead of looking down at the gauges.

This was an area where I was disappointed with the Palisade. Official numbers were 19 mpg in the city, 24 on the highway and 21 combined for the AWD model. Numbers on the FWD models are slightly higher.

But in reality during my time on the roads with the Palisade, I averaged closer to 15 mpg, which was way low. 

The Palisade’s base price starts around $33K, and my test vehicle at the Calligraphy level was just over $49K. While not affordable to everyone, these numbers are consistent with the large SUV category and the competitors offering a similar experience.

Add in that you get Hyundai’s lengthy warranties, and there’s another incentive to choose the Palisade. Those warranties include: 

— 5 year/60K New Vehicle Warranty

— 10-year/100K Powertrain Warranty

— 5-year/Unlimited-mile Roadside Assistance

— 3-year/36,000-mile Complimentary Maintenance


Between its sharp looks (especially on the Calligraphy model), luxurious interior, and state-of-the-art technology and safety offerings, the Palisade remains in its second year one of the best SUVs available for families on the market.

Along with its corporate cousin the Kia Telluride, I fully expect this vehicle to continue to grow in popularity in year two, and eventually it could end up being the most popular vehicle offered by Hyundai, or at least contend for that title, despite its larger size and price.

=== can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page.

Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2021 Hyundai Palisade
  • Price as tested: $49,070 (starts at $33K)
  • Best feature: Versatility, sharp style, safety features
  • Rating: 4 out of five stars 
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Families seeking a modern 3-row SUV that offers comfort and smart technology
Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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